THE HIGHLY anticipated Goulburn Valley League clash at Victoria Park on Saturday has ended in dismay for Echuca Football Club.
The Murray Bombers went down by 89 points to Rochester on their home ground despite getting back some key players for the weekend’s clash.
Echuca recorded just one goal by three-quarter-time, a miraculous shot from Tim Allan in the second, though it wasn’t enough to spark any life into the side.
Coach Andrew Briggs said his team lacked heart when it came to Saturday’s game and their forwards were starved for opportunities when it came to hitting the scoreboard.
‘‘We scored six behinds to eight goals one in the third quarter which showed the difference in entries,’’ Briggs said.
‘‘We didn’t get the ball into our forwards enough and when we did it was pressured shots from out wide.
‘‘There’s no denying the talent (of our bottom six to 10 players), but it’s the will and the want that is still a long way off the teams playing in finals.
‘‘Most play to their potential and sometimes outside themselves at times, but we have too many passengers at the moment.’’
Rochester was far too good in all areas of the ground and proved why they would be in with a strong showing come finals.
Briggs said he had a lot of respect for the way they play and just as the game showed they deserved to be in finals, it also highlighted Echuca wasn’t anywhere near it.
‘‘There were question marks over our hardness around the contest and clean hands were non-existent aside from a handful of players,’’ he said.
‘‘It made it hard to get ball movement, especially when we couldn’t hit our targets.
‘‘Sam Toulmin and Daniel Willis had both been out for six to seven weeks and were a little rusty.
‘‘But they certainly found the footy and tried to generate some run and carry.
‘‘They were a great start in the chain, but we needed guys good enough to be a link to our forwards.’’
The Tigers played a good defensive brand of footy and their ability to deliver strong one on one contests across the ground enabled them to keep on top of the game.
James Gledhill was a key player in the Tigers’ defence and made hard work for the Murray Bombers forward line up which saw many long kicks in contests.
The Tigers were incredibly accurate throughout the game, and made the most of their forward entries to kick 12 goals to two in the second half.
The Murray Bombers matched it with the Tigers in parts of the fourth, Elliot Stewart and Liam Wilkinson both getting on the end of goals.
Rochester was too consistent in the end taking the game 18.10 (118) to 3.11 (29).
Simon Buckley delivered another best on ground performance but played a loan hand in the game.
Skipper Jordan Florance also competed well in the ruck.
‘‘(Buckley) is an outstanding player and has the temperament of a champion,’’ Briggs said.
‘‘There’s a lot you can learn from someone like that.
‘‘It’s possible to turn it around for our final game against Mansfield this weekend, but our guys need to find a purpose.
‘‘It can be a struggle at the moment, but everyone plays for the love of the game and will need to find purpose in what they enjoy about playing.
‘‘We’ll train accordingly this week and I strongly believe we’re good enough to win.’’
Max Scales was back in seniors this week after missing several games through injury and his talent will be a good addition to the list again this week.
Bart Phillips went down early in his 50th club game with an ankle injury on Saturday and will miss the final game this weekend.
‘‘Bart is a highly respected player and it was disappointing he didn’t get to play out his 50th game,’’ Briggs said.
‘‘He’ll be someone we miss next week and will be a big loss from our backline.’’
With one game left to close out the season, it will be a matter of individual player pride this weekend at Mansfield as Echuca tries to end 2017 on a positive note.